The Bible is the grand, sweeping story of the unfolding plan of God throughout the history of the world.

Those are the words on the back of the new ESV Story of Redemption Bible, and these are words that we need to remember today. Many people have lost the idea of scripture as the story of the unfolding plan of God. Instead, we know select verses, and perhaps the name of the some of the books. But how do they all fit together?

Crossway has been on a mission it seems to tie the Bible back together for us. With their series in ‘Shorter Studies in Biblical Theology‘, to their publishing of larger tomes like ‘Kingdom Through Covenant‘, this publisher has been doing a lot to take a glance at the forest, instead of the trees.

So here comes the ESV Story of Redemption Bible – a Bible that is designed to be read as one story. This is a step on from the readers edition, so we have verses and numbers, but it also helps in a number of ways to keep everything tied together.

Looks

The first thing that needs to be said about this Bible is that it is gorgeous. The designers have done a brilliant job with it. Since I saw the preview images I was looking forward to it, and when I opened the box it didn’t disappoint. I’d love to see a leather bound version of it, which I reckon looks even better (a Christmas present maybe? Hint hint!)

The text is printed in a larger font than usual – but not too noticeably. And it’s also printed in a single column. The emphasis on this being one story has been taken and applied throughout. You feel like you are reading a book rather than a traditional Bible. The verse numbers and chapter headings are still there, which does differentiate if from the readers edition. The text is also black throughout (no red letters) which I appreciate when I buy Bibles for myself.

The text is also printed onto premium cream-coloured paper. This makes it easier to read, and surprisingly does make a difference. It does also add a premium finish to the whole Bible as a whole.

Illustrations

Here is an example of the maps found in this Bible

Crossway have also teamed up with Peter Voth – who is an extremely talented illustrator (just check out his portfolio for more proof of that). He has provided the illustrations for the cover, and each Bible book. My wife and I spent a few moments when this Bible arrived, exploring the different illustrations. In the back is a guide as to what each illustration is, and the theme from the book that has been picked up.

Here’s the Bible timeline, found at the back

The illustrations only appear at the start of each Bible book, and only then appear rarely, so this isn’t like a Good News Bible (with pictures throughout). There are illustrations of key locations, updated maps, and when you get to the final page, there is a timeline with more gorgeous artwork. Each illustration is also printed in a monotone gold, which just adds to the class.

Content

Since this is a printing of the English Standard Version of the Bible, you know you are getting a reliable English translation. To have it laid out in single column, and on cream premium paper, does make the text much easier to read.

Notes

What’s new in the content section though is the 900 notes by Greg Gilbert, which sit in the middle of the text. These remind you of where we are in the story, any key moments we need to remember, and any tips for the upcoming section. The editors have done a good job at making these not feel too jarring as you read the text, and theological biases have been kept to a minimum.

Book Introductions

There are also all-new book introductions for each of the Bible books. These, as far as I am aware, have not been included in any other ESV Bible so far, so it was interested to read and compare them. The emphasis in these introductions is to keep the flow of the story going, so for example, the introduction to Ezra reminds us that the book picks up immediately after the end of 2 Chronicles.

Here is the Mark illustration – which Voth chose to use from Christian tradition

When I first heard of the Story of Redemption Bible I imagined the notes would be similar in style to the ESV Study Bible – so appearing as footnotes, and connecting Bible passages together. I would still appreciate a Bible that does this, but this works well. We are beginning a Bible Overview as a church in the next few months, and I am excited to use this particular Bible in that arena.

Conclusion

I hope it has come across that I am very impressed by the work that has been put into this edition of the Bible. The level of notes helps those new to the Bible, or those who’ve read it for years, to grasp a better understanding of the one story of redemption. I would love to see an edition printed with the original canonical order, which aids the story feel – but that’s just a geek’s wish really!

I recommend this Bible for people who want to read their way through the entire Bible for the first time, or maybe the hundredth. As I said, I plan to make lots of use of this over the next year during our churches Bible Overview series. It is easy to read, and it looks good too. And with a reliable translation of the text, what more could you want?

Thanks for Crossway for sending me a complimentary copy of the ESV Story of Redemption Bible for review. The views in this review are my own and are not influenced in anyway by Crossway Books. Pick up a copy of this Bible here!

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